Vaccination is a process that gives a person protection, or immunity, against an infection. Getting vaccinated can protect you from lots of different diseases and help you keep your lungs healthy.
People with a lung condition or other health conditions can be at a higher risk from lung infections. You can prevent some of these infections by getting vaccinated. Getting vaccinated can also protect other people, because it helps to prevent diseases from spreading.
Pneumonia, influenza and whooping cough are examples of lung conditions that can be prevented by vaccination.
Talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you.
What vaccinations are available to protect people from lung diseases?
The influenza virus causes the flu, which can be dangerous for young children, the elderly and people with existing health conditions.
There are many different strains of flu. Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) assesses which strains of flu are likely to be circulating during the following winter. They are then able to advise which three strains of flu the vaccines should target that year. These vaccines are then used across the globe to protect those people most at risk.
Pneumococcus can lead to pneumonia – a severe lung infection. Anyone can be affected by this type of pneumonia but infants under the age of 2 years, adults aged over 65 years and people with lung diseases are most at risk. There are two types of vaccine available to protect against pneumonia.
Whooping cough vaccine
Children are usually given a vaccine against whooping cough during the first year of life with a booster between 5–10 years of age. Since the vaccine was introduced, rates of this infectious disease have been dramatically reduced across Europe. Experts estimate that the vaccine provides protection to children for approximately 5–10 years.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19. Older people and people with pre-existing conditions, such as certain lung conditions, can be at increased risk of severe illness. There have been over 127 million cases of COVID-19 in less than a year worldwide.
How are vaccines given?
Vaccination is easy. A healthcare professional will clean your skin and inject a small amount of liquid into the muscle, usually at the top of the arm. To protect you against some diseases, you may need to go back for a second or third vaccination. That’s it! You are now protected from the virus you have been vaccinated against.
How protective are the vaccines?
These vaccines are the best preventative measures available for protecting against infections such as flu, pneumonia and whooping cough.
Vaccines are not yet 100% protective and a minority of people may still develop an infection once they have received the vaccines.
People can be protected if those close to them (like friends and family members) and enough people in their communities (including healthcare professionals) are vaccinated, because it stops diseases from spreading. This means everyone will receive some protection, even those who are too young or unable to have a vaccination. This is called “herd immunity” and is very important for public health.
Vaccination for lung health
Scientific and clinical resources
- SARS, MERS and other Viral Lung Infections, ERS Monograph, (2016) Editors: David S. Hui, Giovanni A. Rossi and Sebastian L. Johnston
- Risk factors for admission to hospital with laboratory-confirmed influenza in young children: birth cohort study. Pia Hardelid, Maximiliane Verfuerden, Jim McMenamin, Ruth Gilbert. Eur Respir J 2017 50: 1700489
- Cost-effectiveness of adult pneumococcal conjugate vaccination in the Netherlands. Marie-Josée J. Mangen, Mark H. Rozenbaum, Susanne M. Huijts, Cornelis H. van Werkhoven, Douwe F. Postma, Mark Atwood, Anna M.M. van Deursen, Arie van der Ende, Diederick E. Grobbee, Elisabeth A.M. Sanders, Reiko Sato, Theo J.M. Verheij, Conrad E. Vissink, Marc J.M. Bonten, G. Ardine de Wit. Eur Respir J 2015 46: 1407-1416
- Protecting young children from influenza. Peter J. Gill, Kay Wang. Eur Respir J 2017 50: 1701550
- Pneumococcal and influenza vaccination, G. Rohde, P. Openshaw, CME Online 2018
- The importance of CAP prevention in adults, G. Dimopoulos, CME Online
- Be prepared: the importance of healthcare worker vaccination against influenza
- ERS Vision: Influenza the world's most important viral disease